March 7, 2021
The Polar Vortex liked it here, as much as it loved it all over the Extended Midwest. Now it has finally abated. Here we see how the Winter Aconites have increased from February 28 to March 2, 2021. Third and fourth show the Snowdrops from a couple of locations from March 2 to March 6.
Remember that there is information in the name of the file for each image. You can see it by mousing over the image - look at the lower left of the screen. Or you can click on the image to get to the (usually) larger image. Then the info is displayed in the address line above. Sometimes the second click will actually display a different view of the original image.
Here is our grumpy old Eastern Black Carpenter Ant scavenging for whatever it can find out there. At least it is a sign of Spring. All winter we have been graced by Small Honeys, but for some reason I haven't seen one now for some time. I got very excited when this little red thing raced straight up the Wall but now think it is a kind of Wasp. But here is a very good sign of Spring itself - a little outcropping of a very early variety of Crocus. Soon there will be large groupings of these and a few other kinds of Crocus.
First shows a Beetle that was sitting up on the Wall last week, and Second shows a Beautiful short-skirted Rove Beetle. I thought that the little #3 here was a Bug but now I think it's a Beetle too.
Our faithful Dirt-colored Seed Bug, Drymus unus, is still here but doesn't come out of its lair often. Here it was a couple of days ago. Second is a real surprise - I didn't expect to see a Lygus Plant Bug at this time of year. Maybe Spring is coming faster than I thought it could. Third may be that Balclutha leafhopper that was our winner at showing up on the Wall last week or may be a new kind of Leafhopper - the back legs are spiky but the front legs don't show ANY spikes.
Here are a couple of shots of the real Balclutha-genus Leafhopper.
Here (picture 1) is something odd that I haven't gotten ID'd yet.. In picture 2, you now know where Cheerios come from. I thought that the third picture showed another new creature, but it's actually someone's leg. It's wonderful to see something new that may be something you hadn't seen before. Or to see it in a new way.
Chaim found this interesting thing on the web. It is about an insect that has evolved GEARS. I think you will find it fascinating, even if you (like me) have trouble visualizing how the gears interlock.
The insect is the nymph of a Planthopper in the genus Issus, of which we have several species around here. Another Wiki article specifies that this property was observed in Issus coleoptratus, a particular species in the genus Issus. If you click on this species, it will show you a picture of the species and also its range, which is entirely in Europe, so I don't know if any other species related to this genus has this property. Here in picture 1 is a cousin of this species, in a different genus called Thionia. This article reminded me of this little bug (picture 2) Paraxenetus guttulatus, whose nymph seems to have mechanical parts. The overall impression is of an ant with lego-like hips. Disclaimer: This is only an amusing coincidence.
At certain times of day, when the pond is not frozen over so badly, the fishes seem livelier. The one with red and blue is Bunky, our aged Shubunkin. The orange and black one was a tot a few years ago, the one we called the Torty because he looked like a Tortoiseshell Cat. They are swimming among the pump and hose. Second is another assortment. We still have some good old red goldfish, though not so many as the Farleys, who need not bring a few gallons of them. And you need not bring them any more, please, though Sue says the fish eggs are probably brought in on bird feet. This last photo was taken at their pond this week!
The flies are slowly coming back. Here's a Crane Fly. Then a House-Fly lookalike. Then a midge caught by my friend Juanita Solis-Kidder. I love getting pictures from my cronies.
Here's another Midge. One good thing about them is they mean Spring must be coming! Did you see the sun coming in at 8 am this Saturday morning? Next, another kind of Midge, a non-biting one. And, just for good luck, here is that pupa the hover fly larva turned into in the fall. Maybe, just maybe, it could open up and show us the adult!
The little caterpillars, the "loopers" or "measuring worm", are also back. This was a tiny little fellow. Too bad they were down almost on the ground and hard to focus on from my lofty height.
Last week I began to see this kind of picture: it shows a bit of straw with a mysterious black THING at the bottom. It was low on the Wall and very small. It also had the problem that in the morning, the sun caught the black creature and made disconcerting reflections all over. But in the last few days, the Creature has grown and I've been able to make incrementally better pictures.
On the last day of February, this member of Pachypsylla was on our Wall. Kimberlie Sasan recognized one like it as the Hackberry Blister Gall Psyllid (Pachypsylla celtidisvesicula) a few weeks ago. Thanks Kim!
We had quite a few Spiders this week. Here is one of the Cellar Spiders, and another of that one - the shadow is pretty stunning, isn't it? Third is a mystery - there must be a lot of spiders that look like this one.
There have been several Spiders that I would call Running Crab Spiders. For instance, the first and second of these next spiders clearly seem to be one species, while Spider number 3 is from a different lot.
That Eustala genus Spider was here last week. I love the scalloped edges of the abdomen. I'm really sorry not to have seen the Humpbacked one that always used to show up in the winter. One member of my family has been ecstatic to be able to run about out in the yard. She can drink from the pond and soon she'll be able to eat the grass and generally patrol her territory. Apparently her antics amuse the Seely cats no end. Last - another sign of Spring, a Springtail! Oh, and really last - another Springtail, I believe!
Those dear little Gall Wasps are still waiting till they have some plants to lay their little eggs in. Till then, they hang around on the Wall, looking expectant.
I hope you are all getting your vaccinations as soon as possible. Yesterday I went for the first time in a year to one of our local eateries to pick up some take-out food. I have a new hobby - visiting doctors in person. Thank goodness for this blog and AALL - there's been plenty to do. I hope you all are coming through this end of the tunnel roaring and puffing and ready to pick up life where it fell last year. Please be as well as possible. And if you need a nice cat, I can find one for you.
Love to all, Martha
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copyright Martha O'Kennon 2020